Traveling with a baby? Check out these baby travel sleep tips to keep everyone’s sleep on track even when you’re not at home!

mom holding baby on vacation

Traveling with young babies or toddlers is definitely tricky and managing your baby’s sleep while traveling is incredibly daunting for some families.

But that doesn’t mean you should avoid traveling altogether when your kids are little or that sleep should ruin your travel plans.

If you enjoy traveling it can be worth the extra work and sometimes traveling with small children is unavoidable.

Sure, sleep will be off when traveling, but there are some things you can do to optimize sleep even when you’re not at home.

Here are 10 baby travel sleep tips so you can get the best sleep possible when traveling with your littles.

10 Baby Travel Sleep Tips

1. Establish Good Sleep Before Traveling

The best advice I can give you is to establish good sleep routines and habits before you travel with your baby or toddler.

Traveling will likely throw a wrench in the sleep system, so make sure that system is very solid before venturing out.

This may mean sleep training your baby or toddler so you can establish independent sleep habits well before your trip. No one wants to be awake with a fussy baby in a family VRBO or close-quarters hotel room.

Once your child has good sleep habits, they’ll be much more adaptable to new surroundings and sleep environments.

slumberpod for baby sleep while traveling

2. Get a SlumberPod

If you plan on traveling frequently with your baby, get a SlumberPod.

It’s a privacy pod that goes over baby’s Pack and Play to create darkness and prevent baby from watching you all night when room sharing.

The SlumberPod is great for babies who are used to having their own space at home, but will be room sharing on the family vacation or at grandma’s house.

Use the code THEPOSTPARTUMPARTY to save on your Slumber Pod and check out our best tips for using your SlumberPod too.

3. Pack the Essentials

There are a few baby travel essentials that you can pack to help your baby sleep:

Bringing a few items to recreate the sleep environment can go a long way in helping your baby sleep.

books for baby's bedtime routine even when traveling

4. Stick to the Bedtime Routine

Children thrive off of routine!

Keeping your bedtime routine even when you travel with your baby helps cue to them that it’s time for sleep and helps them feel safe and reinforces good sleep habits.

A good baby bedtime routine is one you can do anywhere! Take a few minutes at the end of your day to do your regular or a shortened version of your baby’s bedtime routine.

You can bring a few books from home, your baby’s sleep sack, and do your cuddles or song at the end of the day.

5. Stick to Baby’s Schedule

If you’re traveling and staying within your time zone try to keep your baby on their same schedule.

Naps may be tricky and short, but you can try and have your baby’s nap around the same time each day and keep your bedtime as close to normal as possible.

Of course there will be times when you keep baby up a little later than normal or aren’t able to get them down for a nap at nap time, but try to stay consistent with your baby’s sleep schedule when you can.

If you are traveling to a different time zone, you can stay on your baby’s current schedule, or opt to get on the new time zone. Going west to east is typically easier. If your baby has a 7 pm bedtime, 10 pm will be bedtime on the East Coast.

If the time zone is drastically different, try to get your baby’s sleep schedule on the new time zone upon your arrival.

baby girl playing in the sand at the beach

6. Get Baby Outside

One of the easiest things you can do to help your with jet lag and get better sleep is to get them outside!

Being outdoors helps establish your baby’s natural circadian rhythm and helps their bodies produce melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of outside time each day to help improve your baby’s sleep while traveling. Being in the fresh air can also be a welcome distraction when your baby is struggling to make it to the next nap time!

7. Avoid Overtiredness

Avoiding an overtired baby may be one of the trickier things you try to do while traveling. The truth is, you’ll just have to do your best and roll with it.

There are only so many things in our control when we are focusing on our baby’s sleep while traveling.

Hopefully you know your baby’s wake windows and how long she can be awake before she needs to sleep again. If you can try and get her a nap within her normal wake time or regular nap time, then great!

If you can’t get naps in during the day—or your baby refused a nap altogether—aim for an earlier bedtime. It sounds counterintuitive, but when babies are overtired they will often wake up earlier the next morning.

Your baby will likely make up for the lack of sleep during the day at night time.

baby sleeping in stroller while traveling

8. Get Naps in How You Can

Naps can be one of the biggest challenges of traveling with small children.

Traveling with your baby is not the time to have the highest sleep expectations.

It is more than okay to schedule a car seat ride around nap time, wear your baby or toddler for a nap, do a contact nap, or push a stroller around town while your baby sleeps.

Think through your day and how you can get naps on-the-go based on the activities you’ll be doing throughout the day.

9. Lower Your Expectations

Sleep will almost never be perfect when you’re traveling with a baby or toddler and that’s okay! It’s a new place and the schedule will get thrown off.

Lower your expectations so you can enjoy yourself on the family trip!

No trip is going to ruin your good sleeper forever. Sure there may be setbacks, but sleep is always something you can resolve once you get back home.

Take these tips, try your best to implement what you can, and enjoy your family trip regardless of how your baby sleeps!

baby asleep in a crib

10. Get Back on Track When you Get Home

If your vacation ruined your baby’s sleep, it’s going to be okay! You can always get back on track once you’re home.

Babies are constantly going through sleep regressions, milestones, or traveling—all of which can throw off their sleep. But none of that has to permanently wreck your baby’s sleep.

Get your baby back on their sleep schedule when you get home and implement a sleep training technique if need be.

I hope these tips help your baby sleep while traveling and that you enjoy yourself on your trip!

Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Travel Sleep

Where does baby sleep when traveling?

I recommend bringing a Pack and Play or portable bassinet for your baby to sleep in overnight while traveling. Continue to place baby on back for safe sleep.

For nap time, you can be more flexible. Baby can nap in a baby carrier, on you, in the stroller, or in the play yard.

How can I help my baby sleep on the plane?

If you’re hoping your baby will nap on the airplane, make sure to bring white noise, and a swaddle or sleep sack. You can also do a nap routine on the plane to help cue to your baby that sleep is coming.

How do I fix my baby’s sleep schedule after traveling?

It usually takes 3-5 days for a baby to overcome jet lag and adjust to a new time zone.

When you’re in a new time zone, sunlight can also be a really helpful way to get your baby into the right rhythm.

The more time your baby spends outside, the easier it will be for their body to adjust to the new day and night hours.

baby travel sleep tips pin image
Amy Motroni

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